It's easy to get caught up in the hype of whatever the technology du jour is, which is what makes David Lavenda's outlook so valuable. He uses his monthly column to encourage us all to take a step back, breathe, and put the current fad in historical context — all with a healthy dose of humor.
This isn't to suggest David lives in the past. Whether warning us from falling for the latest company proclaiming its product an "email killer," pointing out the continued impact information overload is having in our personal and professional lives, or reminding us how appallingly bad inventors often are when predicting the uses of their creations, he remains firmly grounded in the present while talking us down from the peak of inflated expectations.
'It's the Journey That Provides the Satisfaction'
What gives you hope in the tech world today?
I believe a historical look at "technology shock" brings perspective. When technologies like the telegraph and the telephone were introduced, people thought they were supernatural; they were as disruptive in their time as the internet or smartphone has been in our own. But after an initial period of disruption, society adjusted, usage patterns became accepted and a new reality emerged. We’re still here! That gives me hope.
Which of the articles you wrote for CMSWire this year was your favorite and why?
The ongoing affliction of information overload continues to disrupt our lives and not for the better. That’s why “Reclaim Your Atttention: Leave Your Smartphone at Home” was my favorite article for 2019. We don’t need more tech to disconnect us from smartphones, we simply need to get back to nature. It’s the oldest idea in the book, but it works.
If you could wake up tomorrow and be an expert in one thing, what would it be and why?
I once heard Sahar Hashemi, founder of Coffee Republic say that “it takes years to become an overnight success.” I take that to mean it’s the journey that provides the satisfaction, not just the arrival. The journey I am on is to become an expert in how new information technologies impacts our daily lives over time.
What is your favorite part of the work you do?
I enjoy starting with a raw idea for new product and working with customers, partners and developers to build a product that brings value to people. I imagine it's a similar sensation that artists experience when they hew a sculpture from a block of stone.
What's an important story you'll be tracking in 2020?
The expansion of the information monopolies — Google, Amazon and Facebook — will continue to be a big story in 2020. These companies will come under increased scrutiny as the implications of their business practices become more pronounced. While it is has avoided the limelight so far, Microsoft will join this list of companies to be scrutinized as its market share grows in fields like cloud infrastructure, AI and collaboration tools.
What advice would you give someone starting out in your field today?
You are going to experience many twists and turns in your career as the pace of business continues to accelerate. Be flexible and embrace change. It is those who are most adaptable to change who will thrive.